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Prentice Hall
Fifty Active Learning Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension / Edition 1

Fifty Active Learning Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension / Edition 1

by Adrienne L. Herrell, Michael Jordan

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This book incorporates the strongest and most current research available to help teachers actively involve their students in the reading comprehension process. Teachers receive expert guidance in a step-by-step format that clearly states and fully illustrates each of the 50 strategies. It delivers “must have” information that enables teachers to assess their students' current strategies. A six section organization enables teachers to easily access appropriate strategies for specific teaching objectives: word and sentence level comprehension, paragraph level comprehension, integrating background knowledge, holistic comprehension, self-monitoring strategies, and assessment to inform instruction. For elementary school teachers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780130184382
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 08/28/2001
Edition description: SPIRAL
Pages: 285
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Adrienne Herrell is a professor of reading/language arts at California State University, Fresno, where she teaches classes in early literacy, assessment, and strategies for teaching English language learners. Fifty Active Learning Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension is Dr. Herrell's fourth book for Merrill/Prentice Hall. Her previous books include Camcorder in the Classroom with Joel Fowler, Fifty Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners, and Reflective Planning, Teaching, and Evaluation: K-12, Third Edition, with Judy Eby and Jim Hicks. Dr. Herrell's writing and research are built on her experiences teaching in Florida's public schools for twenty-three years. She and Dr. Jordan (co-author) are currently engaged in research in Fresno's public schools validating the effectiveness of the strategies described in this text.

Michael Jordan is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Technology and Coordinator of the Multiple Subject Credential Program (Elementary Credential) at California State University, Fresno. He has taught primary grades through high school in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and California. Dr: Jordan is an actor, education director, and board member of Theatre Three Repertory Company in Fresno, California, and is dedicated to providing children and youth access to live theatre. He and Dr. Herrell incorporate many dramatic reenactment strategies in their joint research working with vocabulary and comprehension development in children learning English in the public schools of Fresno. Fifty Active Learning Strategies for Improving ReadingComprehension is Dr. Jordan's first book, and he has published several articles on interactive script writing and vocabulary development to enhance reading comprehension for children.

Table of Contents

Section IWord and Sentence Level Comprehension1
1Collecting Words: Learning the Nuances of Word Meanings2
2Structural Analysis: Focusing on the Meaning of Word Parts6
3Word Mapping: Exploring Word meanings and Applications14
4Word Origin Studies: Linking Word Histories and Roots to Word Comprehension19
5Vocabulary Role Play: Building Vocabulary through Physical Experiences24
6Vocabulary Processing: Multiple Strategies Approach28
7Microselection: Introducing the Concepts of Key Words and Main Ideas35
8Chunking for Fluency: Comprehension at the Sentence Level40
Section IIParagraph Level Comprehension45
9Anaphoric Relations: Word Substitutions46
10Connectives: Focusing on Words That Support Cohesion and Inference50
11Text Charting: Exploring the Connections Among Sentences55
12Inferences: Filling in the Missing Pieces61
13Read, Pair, Share: Working with a Partner to Answer Questions66
14Cooperative Scripts: Working in Pairs to Improve Comprehension and Recall72
15GIST (Generating Interaction between Schemata and Text): Making Comprehension Connections76
Section IIIIntegrating Background Knowledge83
16Coming Attractions: Prereading Strategies to Activate and Build Prior Knowledge84
17Predicting: Using Past Experiences to Support Comprehension89
18Double-Entry Journals: Connecting Experiences to Text96
19Read/Think Aloud: Emphasizing Connections and Thought Processes100
20Series Book Studies: Building Background Knowledge through Familiar Story Elements105
21Intertextual Studies: Comparing Story Elements to Build Comprehension111
22Venn Diagrams: Comprehending through Comparing and Contrasting115
23Critical Reading: Analyzing Text through Higher-Level Thinking Activities124
24Imagination, Images, and Interaction: Creating and Describing Mental Pictures129
Section IVHolistic Comprehension135
25KWL Charts: Supporting Comprehension Into, Through, and Beyond Reading136
26Data Charts: Organizing Information to Aid Comprehension and Recall140
27Drama Centers: Building Comprehension through Active Processing146
28Story Retelling Boxes: Using Props to Reenact Stories151
29Script Writing: Investigating and Analyzing Text156
30Readers Theatre: Using Active Reading Processes to Enhance Comprehension166
31Story Structure Studies: Recognizing and Building on Narrative Story Elements174
32Text Mapping: A Traveler's Guide to Comprehension179
33Summarization: Identifying the Main Idea and Supporting Details186
34NIPS: An Interactive Support Strategy for Comprehending "Tough" Text193
Section VSelf-Monitoring Strategies199
35Cross-Checking: Self-Monitoring at the Sentence Level200
36Periodic Paraphrasing: Monitoring Your Own Understanding206
37Self-Monitoring through Imaging and Interacting: Demonstrating Understanding210
38Note Taking: Identifying and Monitoring Understanding of Important Information216
39Reciprocal Teaching: A Cooperative Approach to Comprehension Monitoring222
40Fix-up Strategies: Knowing What to Do When Reading Doesn't Make Sense226
41SQ4R: Studying for Comprehension and Memory233
Section VIAssessment to Inform Instruction239
42Literacy Observation Checklists: Observing and Conferencing to Document and Set Goals240
43Vocabulary Rating: Assessing Word Understanding and Use245
44Retelling for Assessment: Using Free Recall to Determine Depth of Understanding248
45Comprehension Style Assessment: How Does the Reader Construct Meaning?256
46Cloze Assessment: Evaluating the Use of Comprehension Processes261
47Think-Aloud: Assessing Comprehension Strategy Use266
48Process Questions: Identifying Metacognitive Strategies270
49Question-Answer Relationships: Identifying Question Types and Locating Answers275
50Element Interviews: Engaging Students in Interactions Centered on Story Elements281


The 1998 Nation's Report Card on Reading, issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), indicates that 26 percent of U.S. 8th graders and 23 percent of 12th graders were reading below the basic level. This means they could not necessarily demonstrate an understanding of the literal meaning of a text, draw out its main idea, make inferences, and relate their reading to personal experience (Allen, 2000).

Recognizing that nearly one fourth of our middle and secondary students have difficulty understanding what they read, this text, offers teachers a variety of strategies to assist students, both younger and older, with increasing this most basic of skills.

Through the strategies in this text, it is our goal to give students the tools they need to succeed in a constantly changing and challenging society. Rapid advances in science and technology and increasing pressure to become global citizens means that students are being deluged with new and more difficult vocabulary. It also means that they are asked to read text that has become more intricate and requires greater interpretation and understanding. Failing to give students a foundation for making sense of the myriad varieties of text they encounter only handicaps them in a world that will demand more astute and responsible citizenship.


This book is designed to assist teachers in actively engaging students in increasing their reading vocabulary and comprehension. Through an infusion of the best research on the learning of vocabulary and comprehension skills, this text shows teachers how to activate the learningprocess in students, engage them in the exploration of vocabulary and help them develop comprehension skills they need to become enlightened and enthusiastic readers. Thus, the strategies in this book:

  • Encourage students to become active participants in ongoing vocabulary and comprehension development.
  • Identify how students can be "active learners" in the process, not passive recipients of information.
  • Require students to reflect on and monitor their own comprehension processes and modes of learning, developing more and stronger skills as they progress.

In addition, the strategies in this text offer teachers:

  • Methodologies to incorporate powerful strategies into their current teaching models without "adding on" more material.
  • Strategies for teaching and assessing reading skills, such as inferencing, verifying the main idea, and fluency.
  • Step-by-step instructions to enable them to incorporate the strategies quickly and effectively in their classrooms.
  • Classroom examples to assist them in visualizing a real-life application for implementing each strategy.
  • Strategies that are classroom tested.


This book is organized into six sections related to the five comprehension processes and assessment. Section I relates to word and sentence comprehension and introduces strategies for developing vocabulary and fluency. Section II relates to paragraph level comprehension, and strategies that support readers' understanding of the connections among sentences and the structure of paragraphs. Section III focuses on strategies for integrating background knowledge into the reading process. Secti9n IV offers a look at holistic comprehension and strategies to strengthen understanding and provide skills in summarization. Section V focuses on self-monitoring strategies and gives suggestions for supporting students in becoming strategic readers. Section VI provides innovative assessment approaches that focus not only on comprehension but also on the assessment of reading strategy use.

The 50 strategies in this book are designed to support teachers in assessing comprehension strategies currently used by students. Teachers can use this knowledge to:

  • teach students to process text
  • use the comprehension processes that strong readers use
  • help students acquire vocabulary in a way that will support their comprehension and overall learning in the classroom and in life

Each chapter defines a strategy, gives step-by-step instructions for implementing the strategy, and presents classroom examples demonstrating ways in which the strategies can be adapted for various grade levels and curricular areas. The focus in each of the strategies is active learning, active involvement of the students, and empowerment of the students to self-monitor, using processes and fix-it strategies as needed.

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